Future of radio station uncertain

Jason Anderson of Radio Hartlepool
Jason Anderson of Radio Hartlepool

THE future of a community radio station is still hanging in the balance as a row over an unpaid court bill rumbles on.

Radio Hartlepool, based in York Road, was taken to court in July by former advertising sales managers Donna Feeney and Sarah Sumner, who worked for Bad Girl Media, and sold advertising for the station between 2009 and 2010.

They took action after the station failed to pay them more than £10,000 owed for three months of outstanding work, and with legal fees and court costs adding to that total, station owner Hartlepool Community Broadcasting was ordered to pay within 28 days after a hearing at Teesside County Court, in Middlesbrough, last year.

Legal wrangles have continued for the last few months, and while station bosses have made an offer to Bad Girl Media to pay £200 a month to clear the debt, Mrs Feeney and Ms Sumner are holding out for a monthly payment of £1,000.

As the dispute continues, liquidators in London are monitoring the situation and have warned the station could be forced to cease trading unless a compromise is reached.

They had initially admitted the station could be wound up by the turn of the year, but with negotiations still ongoing the situation could drag on for another two months.

Panos Eliades, who works for Panos Eliades and Franklin liquidators in London, said: “There have been no changes over the last few weeks, they are still in the same situation.

“I don’t think Bad Girl Media are going to accept the offer.

“They want £1,000 a month but they can only afford to give them £200 a month.

“Radio Hartlepool is still trading, but it looks like they may have to cease trading.

“It looks like they can’t do a deal, an agreement can’t be reached.

“It looks like they will have to call a meeting of creditors and cease trading.

“That meeting is going to be over the next eight weeks.”

Mr Eliades, who is in regular contact with the radio station, told the Mail at the end of last year that the situation was delicate as the organisation has no assets.

Ms Feeney, who has wound up Bad Girl Media since the dispute started, said: “As far as we are concerned, nothing has changed.

“We haven’t had any contact from our solicitors and are still waiting for an offer from Radio Hartlepool which we would find acceptable.”

Station director Jason Anderson said: “People know the situation and it is right to say it hasn’t changed.

“We have had a lot of support since the article last appeared in the Mail and we have had offers of support for a raffle we are planning from local businesses to help us raise funds.

“If that cash can help with the running costs of the station, then hopefully revenue we make from advertising will help to pay off what we owe to Bad Girl Media.

“It is a difficult situation, but I have said before and I will say again that the people of Hartlepool do not want to lose their radio station.”